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Innovation Leadership in the Middle of Organization Change at Biogen

I spent the day at Biogen’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA today, with a group of executives sharing ideas on how to drive innovation.  Biogen is already a highly innovative company, as they have continued to drive new treatments in MS, and in 2014, the first major treatment advances in nearly two decades for people living with hemophilia. This has propelled their stock to crazy high’s, with a return to more normal P/E levels recently.  Today, prior to the session opening, an announcement was made that Biogen would be spinning off its hemophilia business.  The announcement was made via email to the attendees present, and a public announcement to the markets.

The executives in the meeting today were all managers from different parts of the organization, who had been challenged to drive innovative approaches in Biogen’s business models.  This was part of NC State’s Poole College of Management program on Innovation Leadership, with the managers involved tasked with coming up with a business solution for a new challenge facing Biogen in its markets.  Over six weeks, these managers from all over the world had come together to create insights into what they felt were the opportunities in the market for this highly innovative company.

What emerged was a fascinating set of “constrained imagination” viewpoints, that included everything from linking of PET scan services for Alzheimers, approaches for driving innovation processes in the company, and ways to link with global consumers all over the world via connectivity apps.  The approaches were all diverse, but all demonstrated incredibly novel ideas that will impact the end to end supply chain, from the customer’s customer to the supplier’s supplier.  As a supply chain professor, I was enthralled by learning more about how companies in the biotechnology space are working to create new, highly novel approaches in this new era of therapeutic medicine.  What I saw was the merger of digitization, medical therapies, customer service, and cloud-based applications that will drive the new era of medicine with the goal of eliminating diseases such as Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, and hemophilia.  As a separate entity, the Biogen spinoff is endowed with the same innovative spirit as its predecessor, and I have no doubt it will thrive.